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Consider this question. The question as originally posted was rather unspecific and ambigious, but the poster then clarified his intention in a comment.

From what I read here and on other StackExchange sites, the stated purpose of comments is to clarify questions and answers. My understanding is that whatever is written in the comments ought to be merged back into whatever was commented on, such that the comments can eventually be deleted.

Still, in doing exactly that, I cannot shake the lingering feeling that somehow this might be inappropriate. I can’t quite put the finger on why exactly that is other than a vague feeling on, I don’t know, trespassing on someone else’s questions or answers.

So before I go on doing this elsewhere where I happen to notice a similar situation, I thought I’d better stop and get ‘clearance’ first.

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    If OP says something in comments, its well formatted, and you make sure the reviewer sees it in your edit reasons, its probably going to be accepted. I think any reasonable improvement that dosen't change the OP's intent should be considered on its own merits. – Journeyman Geek Nov 8 '14 at 14:19
  • If the original post is new and adds important information in comments I will always merge that to the main post and post a comment stating that I did so and how to use the edit link. In all other cases it depends( on the post, on the relevancy of the information, etc etc). – Hennes Nov 8 '14 at 15:41
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TL;DR: Yes, you should edit this information into the post.

trespassing on someone else’s questions or answers.

That's not the case here though. People will leave comments to add details but forget to edit their question because they don't know that this is what we'd like to see on Stack Exchange.*

New users are still often treating our sites like forums, where everything is based on chronologically sorted threads—so they'll post comments or even answer their question with further info, rather than editing their post.

And even when they do, many of them litter their post with EDIT marks, which are absolutely irrelevant since the revision of a post is stored anyway and we usually don't need to know when which part was added.

So by all means, if you see the OP clarifying their post in a comment instead of the actual question or answer, then go ahead and edit that in. Make sure to specifically state in your edit reason that you copied the OP's comment. Otherwise your edits may be rejected as too radical.

And let's step back for a moment and look at the broader issue (or cause of your concerns). This site is not about the users—it's primarily about the content. We're curating content for the sake of delivering quality information to visitors who have similar problems.

Of course, you should not be stepping on someone's toes by changing the meaning of a post or insisting on miniscule but unnecessary changes (e.g. British vs. American English). But if you can improve a post—in terms of formatting, spelling, grammar or even content—then you should by all means do it.

* Well, in fact the message under closed posts is a little misleading because it says "If this question can be reworded […] please […] leave a comment." This is certainly not going to help the OP get their question reopened unless someone sees the comment, edits the post themselves, and then votes to reopen.

  • It's a little surprising that the site doesn't have a streamlined process for appending comments by the OP to the original question (eg. a link which does that [possibly without going through the review process] placed near all OP comments when viewed by people above X rep). It would save a lot of time and effort. – krowe Jan 24 '15 at 15:46
  • I wouldn't like that. Ideally, when editing a question, the additional info should be added in a natural way, possibly rewriting some parts. Appending comments would be like a bullet point list of Edit: marks, which are discouraged (I also mentioned that in my answer). – slhck Jan 24 '15 at 16:00
  • The reason edit marks are actually important is because, they help with chronological context. Unless you also go update all current responses to reflect that they were made to a previous revision then how are readers going to know that the answer they are reading may be to a different question? Even seemingly small updates can have very dramatic changes as to the intent of the question. – krowe Jan 24 '15 at 16:04
  • I don't think a revision history solves the problem nearly as well because you are asking people, who may not even be involved with the site beyond having it come up on a search result, to have an intimate understanding of the system. Just because the question has one less word doesn't make it clearer. Just because the question is more clear doesn't make the information easier to find. Overall, the whole page is much easier to read (without navigating off page) if you just add an update header when you make large updates to a question which will change how people should answer. – krowe Jan 24 '15 at 16:14
  • Well, this comment thread is probably not the best way to discuss this, but, in essence: the history of the question does not matter. Of course you shouldn't go ahead and completely change the intent of the question in the first place. And when you do, re-write it. Don't put "EDIT" at the bottom and start again. But it's the job of the people who answer to keep their answers up to date. Stack Exchange posts are not chronologic by nature. So just keep them consistent. See also: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/127639/… – slhck Jan 24 '15 at 16:15

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